ST. PARIS – The future use of the former Graham junior/senior high school building is up in the air, its future owners say, adding they want the property to be a “win-win” for the village and school district.
Graham Local Schools’ board began the process of selling the building at 370 E. Main St. in St. Paris to the village of St. Paris at its Monday meeting. The village offered the school district $15,000 for the property and all its buildings on the approximately four acres of land.
“The village council and the Graham school board want to make this a win-win for everyone involved and use the property to the best interest for the village residents as well as the Graham school district,” said Village Administrator Joe Sampson. “Moving forward in a positive manner will only make our community stronger and show others what can be accomplished when we all work together.”
Sampson said the St. Paris council has not decided how it will use the property, and that will likely be discussed in future public meetings.
The village owns property around the site, Graham District Operations and Services Supervisor Don Burley said previously.
Graham Interim Superintendent Matt Curtis said he and the board are pleased the village is willing to take over the building.
“It is quite difficult to take care of a property like that,” he said. “We are thrilled the village of St. Paris is interested in taking it on.”
The 370 E. Main St. property is valued at $33,000, according to a 2014 assessment of the structures and the site conducted by appraiser Steve Allen before A.B. Graham Academy closed in June 2014. The Champaign County auditor’s website lists the property value at $618,190. The district paid $2,000 for the appraisal of the property, according to district records.
It is unclear why there is a difference between the auditor’s appraisal of the value of the property and the district’s appraisal. Burley said the Graham school board wanted an appraisal that indicated the actual value of the building. Allen’s appraisal compared the building with similar school buildings in the state, Burley said.
Champaign County Auditor Karen Bailey was unavailable for comment.
Allen’s appraisal indicates the building could have asbestos that needs removed, or lead-based paint, due to its age. The main building on the property was built in the 1930s, according to Allen’s appraisal.
The 370 E. Main St. building is currently the location of Graham’s transportation and bus operations, but those functions are moving to a new bus garage property being developed. The hope is to have those moved by Jan. 1, 2016, Burley said previously.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.